11. ‘My Own Man’ review

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My Own Man is about a guy who turns 40, feels like he can’t stand up for himself, can’t hold his own, and doesn’t want to be like that anymore. So he goes on a journey to discover what it means to be a guy, what does it means to be a “real man.”

He actually begins by starting a journey to become an “alpha” male, but eventually learns to just be himself. The thing is, he felt pressure from society to be a man’s man, or to be a strong alpha male, but really, what he needed to do, and what he learnt to do, was just to be himself.

It has a really good quote that I think is so revelatory – “When you’re not looking outside of yourself for approval, it changes everything.”

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7. My Own Man

As I have been thinking more about a couple of old boxes of mine – stuff to do with my Dad, and the idea of being a people pleaser/approval addiction/my identity, I came across a documentary with similar themes.

It has just been released on Netflix and is called, “My Own Man.”

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3. How I learnt about boxes

Thinking back, I think I learnt the “benefit” of compartmentalising my life into boxes in my mind from an early age. I grew up in a family which from the outside looking in would be considered a model family. We were well off, relatively happy and I knew my parents loved me.

My dad was never very open with his emotions, and never really spoke them out – like a lot of guys really – so it’s not like I grew up with him saying “I love you son” all the time or anything. But implicitly I knew that he loved me. I guess my issue was that I saw the way he bonded with my brother over similar interests – sport and music – while I was into different things: computers, academia, reading and the arts. My dad never made me feel bad or ashamed about what I was interested in, but I craved the kind of bonding that he had with my brother.

But of course, I never said anything.

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1. Boxes

I have always been good at putting things in boxes – be it the stress or anger I am feeling, some kind of guilt or shame, or even grief. I have developed an excellent ability to put my feelings into a metaphorical box in my head, and soldier on. I think I learnt how to do this from a young age and I will most likely write about that another day, but what I learnt was, on the surface, it can work really well.

I appeared to be unflappable, dependable, together – but actually I was just the guy who didn’t really deal with things AT ALL. The problem with that is, after a while, those boxes get pretty jam packed with all the crap you are shoving in there, and they explode. And when that happens, you best not be standing anywhere near, because shit gets crazy.

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